Novelist Sandra Benitez to speak at OSU


CORVALLIS - Sandra Benitez, who won the 1998 American Book Award for her epic novel about El Salvador, "Bitter Grounds," will read from her work at Oregon State University on Thursday, Feb. 25, at LaSells Stewart Center.

The fiction reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

This is the second event in the Visiting Writers Series, sponsored by the English Department at OSU.

"Bitter Grounds," Benitez's second novel, is set in the coffee plantations of El Salvador and spans the years between 1932 and 1977. It follows the lives of three generations of the Prieto clan and the wealthy family for whom they work.

Noted Latin American novelist Isabelle Allende has called the novel "a story of passion, politics, death and love...This is the kind of book that fills your dreams for weeks."

Benitez's first novel, "A Place Where the Sea Remembers," was published in 1993 by the Coffee House Press. Winner of a number of awards, it has been translated into five languages.

A Puerto Rican-American, Benitez grew up in Mexico, El Salvador and Missouri, and has spent the last 23 years in Minnesota, where she teaches creative writing. She is a relative latecomer to writing.

"I was 39 before I gather enough courage to begin," Benitez said. "I had to suppress the knowledge that mainstream America often ignores the stories of 'la otra America' - the other America. In my heart were stored the stories of my Latin American and Midwestern heritage."

A book signing in the lobby will follow the reading.